A new initiative has been launched in School District 83 to further encourage students to be critical thinkers and creative builders.
All the elementary and middle schools along with three of the five secondary schools have been equipped with tool carts to develop and build their own projects under the Explore A Trade program.
School district principal Reid Findlay calls the DeWalt tool box units “maker carts,” outfitted with a cross-section of tools from hammers and screw drivers to box cutters and pliers in a storage kit with wheels.
Findlay said all the schools have been given a list of 32 design challenges to choose from, covering a broad range of topics from agriculture automation and animal carrot to water management and water conservation concepts.
“We want to encourage our students to think about world issues and put their creativity to work in the classroom to teach and train them, for when they graduate it will be up to their generation to solve the problems of the world.”
Findlay said there are multiple benefits from the program, which on the surface would appear to stray from the typical academic subject approach.
Findley said many subjects, such as science and math, come into play when students work on these design-and-build projects, and are being exposed to the career opportunities that exists in the trades.
“It really is going in a different way of traditional academics by putting to use applied design skills and technology use,” he said.
“I’s a fun way to learn, and it adds the whole notion of what you build with nothing more than duct tape and cardboard. You don’t have to have expensive tools and materials to engage in design thinking and prototyping.”
Following that same line of thinking, another Explore A Trade program initiative offered a design challenges create something that a solution to an everyday problem with a budget of $15 for materials.
“The students presented their projects in a Dragon’s Den format and it was incredible to see what they came up with using trade skills like plumbing, electrical and carpentry,” he said.
The Shuswap Construction Industry Professionals association has also been a supporter of the trades exposure initiative, donating $12,000 to the purchase of the tool carts.
“We would always offer a scholarship every year to a student who wanted to further their post-secondary education in a trade and we found those scholarships were sometimes going unclaimed,” said Donna Smith, president of SCIP.
“So supporting the Explore A Trade program reaches out to more than just one student. It introduces students throughout a school to the career opportunities that exist in the construction trades.
Findlay says the program allows students to be active participants in their education process, and to develop knowledge about career opportunities that exist beyond a college or university level.